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Disappointment: Plot holes, compulsive nit-picking, & shark repellant bat-spray


Sometimes I wish I was a writer for video games. To be specific, I wish they’d invent a job specifically for me where other writers & editors give me their one hundred percent finished story and let me go through everything in order to make it better, RedLetterMedia style. Why? Because I can be a compulsive nitpicker when it comes to a story’s plot especially if it’s a story (or part of a franchise) I care about a lot, in fact I’d safely say that the more I like something the more I nitpick at it. Because of this, my fictitious job title should be “Chief Executive in Charge of Bullshit Nitpicking”, or CECBN for short. Stupid plot decisions or plot holes eat away at me big time. If I actively played Mass Effect I’d probably be on their side of the whole “ending fiasco” that’s taking place (though I wouldn’t go to the extremes some have, because they’re terrible people who apparently support George Lucas). Also, if you get annoyed by people nitpicking at things I’d recommend you step away now.

Generally I’m not in favor of fans having substantial say in how video games (and other media, for that matter) are made, yet I am starting to be more in favor of the idea that video games (story wise and gameplay wise) should be screened in front of audiences before going gold. This does happen to certain degrees already; lots of games do various kinds of beta testing and quality assurance. However not all games go through beta testing and, as Skyrim on PS3 proved, not all internal quality assurance is up to par. Along with this, storylines never seem to get screened much at all in the video game world whereas in Hollywood and TV there are pre-screenings and pilot episodes to get audience feedback. Stuff such as this would help prevent fiascos, like the aforementioned Mass Effect 3 one, from ever happening in the first place. Considering how the internet explodes the moment almost anything happens, steps to help prevent this wouldn’t be bad.

Batman: Arkham City is one of those games where I really wish Rocksteady came to me first with a copy of the game and told me to point out anything that seems wrong. Now don’t get me wrong, Arkham City was a totally sweet game and deserved a lot of the accolades it recieved. However, City’s third act was a massive drop-off in storyline quality compared to the rest of the game and it led to a bunch of questions from me as well as generally feeling rushed. Arkham City has been around for a while, however, I’m going to give a big old fashioned boldfaced SPOILER WARNING here out of courtesy because I’m going to be discussing plot elements of the game as well as the ending here. So if you don’t want spoilers, well, look someplace else.

From right around the time you need to storm Hugo Strange’s tower in Arkham City until the end credits of the game itself, things fell apart in my opinion. After you clear out Strange’s tower of the bad guys and prepare to take down Strange himself Ra’s Al Ghul pops up out of nowhere and murders Strange. We, rather out of the left field, find out that Strange has been working with Ra’s Al Ghul the whole time because this was all some strange attempt to cleanse Gotham in one big swoop. Why did they have to go through the whole effort of creating a Snake Plisken-esk prison city in order to gather and murder everyone when everyone was still sitting happily in Arkham Asylum in the last game? Yeah, I know, this way Strange had the Gotham City police’s firepower on his side to speed up the blowing up of things. But this is the DC Universe, people, with all of Ra’s international ties you think he could have made the whole thing a lot easier by just finding some super weapon. Ra’s then explains why he decides to murder his wannabe heir, and it’s because Batman proved he was still better than Strange. No fucking shit, of course Batman is still better! Batman is main reason 95% of Arkham City’s population is even there. Plus, Ra’s, it took Batman storming Strange’s tower to convince you Batman was still the boss? I would have thought Batman completing a series of trials that nobody else has even survived, and beating the shit out of you afterwards, would have been enough to convince you that Batman is still top dog.

Then, because he’s obviously upset about being double crossed, Strange activates a bomb in order to try and blow up he, Ra’s, and Batman all at once. Ra’s and Batman manage to escape, and Ra’s decides to commit suicide even though the fall was already going to kill him anyway. Besides all of the annoying head scratchers I listed above you know what else bugged me? The whole “Strange knows who Batman is” angle of the story never gets resolved. No, Strange dying does not resolve the issue because we never even find out how he discovered Batman’s true identity. Did he deduce it himself? If so, how? Or is there a potential security leak somewhere that led Strange to Bruce Wayne? Considering Batman is supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, these are questions that Batman would definitely want answered. Due to this unresolved plot thread now there are only two reasons why Strange knowing Batman’s identity is even relevant, getting Bruce into Arkham and shoe-horning Ra’s into the finale. Using the identity subplot as a reason to get Batman into Arkham ends up being stupid without any proper resolution because they could have thought of a bunch of other simpler reasons to get Batman there, like having him fly in on the Bat-plane… which he already uses early in the game to get all of his Bat-shit anyway

Then we get to the big final scenes with Batman, Joker, Talia, and Clayface. Without going into too much detail; Talia tries to murder Joker since she knew Batman wouldn’t do it himself, we find out healthy-Joker is a ruse because he’s actually Clayface, and real Joker shoots Talia. I have no problem with the Clayface decoy part of this and it was actually a pretty nice little fake-out, it actually reminded me of the Hush storyline where Clayface posed as Jason Todd. However if Talia was just going to murder Joker anyway why did she wait a couple of hours to do it, and do it in a place that was clearly designed to be a trap for Batman (and therefore a trap for herself). This really isn’t really a plot hole per say, it’s just a bit of lazy writing that really irks me even by comic book standards.

Finally we hit the point in the game where Batman & Joker are knocked unconscious. Eventually Batman wakes up, Joker’s cure vile gets destroyed, and Joker dies. So, Batman was unconscious for an undisclosed amount of time and Joker not only woke up first but had the time to sneak into hiding so that he could ambush Batman with a knife. Why would Joker not drink the cure while Batman was bat-napping and do the one possible thing that would guarantee he doesn’t get the cure? Joker’s crazy however he’s not an idiot. Joker’s also well aware that Batman will not murder people or let them die (in fact Joker casually mocks this trait in the previous game) so all he really needs to do is sit around and wait for Batman to wake up, because he knows Batman will keep him alive.

The whole sequence is lazily written and exists simply to force some bizarre dramatic ending with Joker finally biting the big one. I understand Joker’s death in this game was supposed to be an allegory to Mark Hamill stepping down as the voice of Joker (something he’s apparently rescinded), however if you’re going to do something like that then please put more thought into it. Instead the entire sequence ends up feeling more out of character for Joker than even his Super-Joker transformation in Arkham Asylum. In fact, I would say Asylum’s ending is a better ending in general because while it’s still lame it at least makes sense. As one final silly nitpick, considering Joker refers to Talia as the love of Batman’s life… don’t you think it would have made more sense for Batman to carry Talia out of Arkham instead of Joker? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’d leave someone I loved in a half broken theater with the remnants of Clayface. Oh, I love how Commissioner Gordon totally doesn’t give a crap about Joker being dead beyond a “what happened” and just lets Batman leave. Just funny because I distinctly remember at least one or two occurrences in the comics where Gordon held Batman at gunpoint to stop him from murdering Joker.

I loved Arkham City, I really did, so please don’t interpret all of my nitpicking as me hating on a game or anything like that. I just really get annoyed at bullcrap plot mistakes that could have easily been remedied with some common sense (which is why The Dark Knight should have ended with everyone blaming Joker for Two-Face’s murders, by the way). Thus, it really bugs me that such a great game had to end on a disappointing down-note.

Oh and one last thing… why were Catwoman and Poison Ivy apparently having the exact same conversation for hours while Catwoman hung upside down?
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About Sephzillaone of us since 9:27 AM on 07.15.2008

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Who am I? I'm a guy who plays video games, talks way too much about comics and movies, likes Godzilla and Robocop. Why should you read my blog? Because when I write I have fun, make up bullshit lists, and when I do get a little serious with some blogs I try to be insightful and use resources and facts to try and back up my opinion as much as I can. And if you don't follow my blog, I'll send you a picture of a sad kitten who wants some love.

Also, I tend to debate a lot and get up on a soapbox a bit from time to time. I like to debate for the sake of debating and I tend to find it fun to get other peoples perspectives on things, and sometimes I like to play devil's advocate a bit just for the sake of it. Basically, don't take me so serious sometimes even if it seems like I am being serious.

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